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Japan vs Korea: Which Country is Better for Foodies?

Foodies, let your taste buds be your guide. Japan and South Korea quickly rise to the top rankings when it comes to the best destinations abroad. At Skyscanner Australia, we've investigated the countries' culinary scenes when it comes to spiciness, variety, presentation, tea culture, and seafood.

There are a lot of similarities between Japan and Korea, but there’s a surprising difference in what the two nations eat.

Want to head overseas for a culinary treat? We compare Japan and Korea from a foodies’ perspective.

Food appearance

While Korean food certainly can look appetising, there are times when it can look a bit spartan or that it’s there simply for nourishment.

Japanese food, on the other hand, is an art form. From the elegant servings of sushi and sashimi to the perfectly manicured food you’ll find in several specialty cafes. For an example of this, check out the menu for the Pokemon Cafe in Tokyo.

Whether you want to eat a Pikachu rice dish or an Eevee biscuit, washed down with many character choices, there’s plenty of options. And by no means is the Pokemon Cafe the only place to be doing this sort of thing.


Spicy food is a way of life for some people, while others can’t stomach it.

While Japan does have curries, they’re not spicy in the same way that Thai curries or some hotter Indian curries are. On the whole, they’re mild and palatable for most people.

In Korea, however, spice is everything. From the kimchi to the instant noodles, there’s a little kick in most dishes. For something a little different, make sure to try local delicacies like tteokbokki (stir fried rice cakes) and ramyeon (pulled noodles).


Maybe it’s just because Japanese food has been popular overseas for longer, but it feels like we have access to most varieties of Japanese food in Australia.

Of course, food is always better overseas so no matter how good your local sushi place, you’ll easily find better in Tokyo.

Korean food, however, is more of a mystery. While Korean barbecue restaurants have been around a while and the fried chicken and beer combos are making more of an appearance, there are so many more delicacies to try when you hit Seoul.

From street food delights like hotteok (both sweet and savoury) and pajeon (savoury pancakes) to mandu (dumplings) and joomuk-bap (rice balls), there’s plenty to try and explore.


Green tea is a huge part of both cultures and no matter which country you visit you’ll quickly notice one thing: it’s so much better than in Australia.

Between the two countries, there’s a general consensus about which makes a better brew (even between themselves) but it depends on how you like your green tea.

There are two main ways to make green tea: from leaves or from powder.

In most cases, you’ll find the better green tea from leaves is found in Korea.

However, the better powdered green tea (matcha in Japan, malcha in Korea) is found in Japan. This is due to the different growing conditions and practices in each country.

Perhaps more importantly, if you’re looking for a good Instagram photo, the tea in Japan tends to be greener.


With so much coastline, it’s no surprise that Japan has an infatuation with seafood. From the famed sushi and sashimi to oddities like sea urchin and creatures with many legs, there’s a lot on offer. Hokkaido in the north is thought of as the nation’s seafood capital, but you can get great fish wherever you go.

In Korea, it’s certainly possible to get good seafood, but there’s less of an emphasis on it. Instead, you’re more likely to find meats like chicken and pork on the menu.

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